About EPEP StoreEP BrandsSupportCommunityNews & Info
Blog Home

Safety on Set Amid Changing COVID-19 Guidelines

What productions should know as they head back to work
June 9, 2021

Staff Writer

actors on set

Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), along with the entertainment industry’s major unions and guilds, have been working towards enabling productions to resume safely and responsibly. In September of 2020, their efforts culminated in a formal Return to Work Agreement (RTW) that established comprehensive protocols to protect employees as productions returned following the shutdown, contributing to the economic recovery of the industry and the country.

Throughout the pandemic, the industry also has to ensure productions remain in compliance with state and local guidelines. Since the beginning of 2021, those guidelines have begun to shift as more Americans become vaccinated, lockdowns are lifted, and states decide to reopen. The result is mixed; some protocols haven’t changed – like the RTW agreement, which expires June 30th – and some are continually evolving.

With that in mind, we wanted to help by looking at ongoing recommendations, how states are reopening and updating guidelines, and how productions can keep track of all the changes with EP’s COVID-19 Reopening Tracker.

What does the AMPTP’s Return-to-Work agreement require?

Until its expiration on June 30th (it is, however, up for renegotiation) the RTW agreement continues to be the touchstone for productions’ safety, operating conditions, testing, training, sick leave and quarantine pay. Given its importance, here’s a review of its main guidelines, which remain applicable until it is extended or renegotiated:

  • Heightened cleaning and disinfection procedures must be in place.
  • Meals and snacks must be packaged and wrapped individually. Food may not be served buffet style.
  • Contact should be minimized by, for example, limiting shared equipment and transitioning to touch-less, digital documents.
  • A COVID-19 compliance supervisor, responsible for the safety and enforcement of these guidelines, must be trained and assigned to each production. A stipend of $20 per hour of training is available if it occurs outside a regular workday.
  • Employees must receive a PCR diagnostic test within 72 hours of their first day of work – or two rapid tests within 48 hours.
  • The frequency of testing after the initial pre-work screening is determined by the organization of the workforce in four zones, defined by the frequency of interactions they have with co-workers.

Zone A: All performers and background workers. If working five days or more in a week, these individuals must be tested three times (one PCR, two rapid tests). If working less than five days, testing should occur once within 72 hours before each day of work.

Zone B: Employees on hot sets who are near others without personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks or face shields, or need to work within six feet of others for longer than 15 minutes. PCR testing is required once per week, or alternatively, two rapid tests.

Zone C: Employees who wear PPE at all times, are only around others wearing PPE, and never work closer than 6 feet to someone. PCR testing is required every two weeks.

Zone D: All other workers, such as publicists, post-production employees, set designers, costume department, and others. After initial pre-employment tests, no further periodic testing is needed– unless if required to enter any of the above zones.

Note: Producers are encouraged to limit contact further by creating “pods” within zones.

  • A Health Assessment Survey is required from on-set employees at the start of each day and may be submitted electronically or in person.
  • Productions must pay a $250 stipend to employees receiving tests on non-workdays.
  • Quarantine pay is made available for cases where, for example, actors or crew arrive at shooting locations where they must self-isolate for up to two weeks before starting work.
  • Up to 10 days of paid sick leave (no more than $750 per day) is offered to those experiencing an “Eligible COVID-19 Event.” An “event” is defined as an individual (or their family member) testing positive for COVID-19, being asked by a producer to self-isolate after being near someone with COVID-19, or needing to care for children or the elderly.

How can productions track changing COVID guidelines?

Productions are not just guided by the RTW agreement, but by ever-changing federal, state and city-level protocols. There are CDC guidelines to adhere to, although they can change weekly and may not necessarily affect productions in every state. Because some COVID-19 decisions are left to individual states, that means there is no consensus – especially around the question of reopening, something that’s critical to productions moving forward.

Some states consider hospital rates, immunization rates, COVID-19 case numbers, other factors, or all of the above, before deciding to reopen. Some states have already set firm dates for reopening (such as California and Illinois scheduled to reopen in June), while some still have not (New York and New Jersey). Some states are already open and don’t require masks (Georgia and Louisiana), some are open but do require masks (Nevada and West Virginia).

The complex and changing landscape of local, state, federal, and industry-specific guidelines is the reason EP has created the COVID-19 Reopening Tracker. Designed to consolidate key information impacting production locations across the United States, the tracker provides accurate and timely information regarding all COVID-related travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and reopening protocols for each state and key filming jurisdiction so productions can resume safely and operate in compliance.

In order to reflect sometimes day-to-day changes, the tracker is updated every 14 days to list the most current information about federal, state, and city-level COVID-19-related ordinances and protocols. It also tracks entertainment industry union reports and agreements – something that will be especially critical for whatever changes may be made to the RTW agreement after its expiration in June.

For more information, be sure to check out our Master Series Webinar on the Return-to-Work Agreement and stay up to date on changing guidelines with the COVID-19 Reopening Tracker.

Topic: COVID-19

Related Content

New Terms Under Return-To-Work Agreement

8/30/2021
RTW extension includes new two-part delineation, and the role of the vaccine
Topic: Legal
More
2022 Budgeting-sq

Budgeting for 2022: A Production Accountant's Guide

12/15/2021
EP's Payroll Tax, Production Incentives, and Business Development experts explain how inflation,...
Master Series: Budgeting for 2022-1

Budgeting for 2022: What Productions Need to Know

12/10/2021
From unemployment taxes and worker's compensation to the price of labor and materials, production costs...

Film Commission Report Highlights Covid Costs as Production Ramps Up

12/6/2021
Covid-compliance measures impact production budgets, estimating $90 million or more
Los Angeles Times logo-sq

California productions to spend at least $90 million on COVID-19 safety measures

11/16/2021
A new report has put a price tag COVID-19-related costs, according to data released from the California...

How to solve a compounding problem?

9/8/2021
The perennial shortage of production accountants has been made worse by the competition for resources, but...
New Terms Reached Under Return-To-Work Agreement: Delineation into Two Parts, and the Role of the Vaccine

New Terms Reached Under Return-To-Work Agreement: Delineation into Two Parts, and the Role of the Vaccine

8/23/2021
In September 2020, the AMPTP and the industry’s Unions issued a Return-to-Work Agreement setting forth...
Sarah Westman-liu and Jennifer Liscio

Canadian Incentives and Legislation News

6/10/2021
The latest updates on incentives, CRA guidance on COVID-19 related costs, and more!
Producing through COVID women producers panel

Producing Through COVID-19: A Discussion with Six Prominent Women Producers

3/25/2021
Stories of navigating the entertainment industry and producing during a pandemic

Returning to Production: Hair and Makeup Teams Apply COVID-19 Protocols to Life on Set

2/26/2021
Getting back to work: a look inside set life during COVID-19

The Beginner's Guide to Production Incentives

2/17/2021
EP helps filmmakers navigate the complex world of film and television incentives
35-production-accounting-terms-feature

35 Production Accounting Terms You Should Know

1/11/2022
Ready to test your production accounting vocabulary knowledge? See how many of these 35 common terms you...
Virtual-production-stage

The Future of Film and Television Production

1/4/2022
Virtual stages, remote production offices, and other advances in technology drive the evolution of...
New York City Imposes Mandatory Vaccination Requirement On Private Employers

New York City Imposes Mandatory Vaccination Requirement On Private Employers

12/22/2021
Starting December 27, 2021, workers in New York City must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to...
creating-a-winter-wonderland-elf

Creating a Winter Wonderland

12/21/2021
How ‘Elf’ Production Designer, Rusty Smith, Produces the Perfect Snowy Scenes for Film and Television
Shiran-Amir-Randy-Bricker-Meet-the-Editors

Meet the Editor

12/7/2021
‘Chucky’ editors Randy Bricker and Shiran Amir on navigating the entertainment industry and how they...
EP BLOG_Payroll_Cleanup_Becky_Harshberger_sq

Everything You Need to Know About End-of-Year Production Payroll Cleanup

11/30/2021
Reconciling payroll errors and generating accurate W-2s can be a tedious process. These proactive steps...
Kickstart-with-ep-academy

Kickstart Your Production Career with the EP Academy

11/23/2021
From Production Accounting basics to technology certifications, EP’s online courses offer one-of-a-kind...
film-budget-meeting-sq

Why Accurate Payroll Tax Withholding Matters to Film Budgets

11/16/2021
Wendy Black, EP’s Vice President of Incentive Operations, shares tips for ensuring your production...
Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup-Panelists-sq

Best Practices for Year-End Payroll Cleanup

11/15/2021
Payroll tax expert Becky Harshberger shares best practices to help production accounting teams prepare for...
film-festivals-online-or-in-person_sq

Film Festivals: Online or In-Person?

11/9/2021
Producers weigh in on the state of festival season post-pandemic, featuring Divi Crockett and Mike Drake
john hadity-beginners guide to hybrid film financing

The Beginner's Guide to Hybrid Film Financing

11/3/2021
How to successfully navigate working with foundations and investors to finance your next social-impact...
Psychology-of-terror-steve-wang-todd-masters-feature

The Psychology of Terror

10/29/2021
How our deepest personal fears inspire cinematic monster makers Todd Masters and Steve Wang
John Hadity-Sandra Schulberg-Hybrid Financing Master Series

Film Financing Explained: Hybrid Financing

10/27/2021
Sandra Schulberg joins John Hadity for a spirited discussion on Hybrid Financing and how filmmakers can...
Master Series Thumbnail-Best practices for accurate payroll tax withholding

Best Practices for Accurate Incentive Payroll Tax Withholding

10/22/2021
Learn how payroll tax withholding impacts a production incentive or film tax credit, and how productions...
woman-man-filming-production-sq

Mission: NOT Impossible

10/20/2021
Production incentives give producers options, increase infrastructure development and jobs promoting...
Identity Security Film Production-sq

Identity Security in Production

10/13/2021
5 Strategies to Manage Risk and Resist Cyberattacks in the Entertainment Industry
5 top payroll tax errors-Becky Harshberger

5 Top Payroll Tax Errors and How to Prevent Them

9/28/2021
Production payroll can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be! Payroll Tax expert Becky Harshberger...
Christine Davila, Jairo Alvarado, Sonia Gambaro

Authentic Latinx Storytelling Starts with Inclusion

9/22/2021
Christine Dávila, Jairo Alvarado, and Sonia Gambaro work to amplify the talents of underrepresented...

Streamers and the Changing Landscape of Film Distribution

9/14/2021
Director/Producer Daniel Farrands on strategies for success in the time of VOD

Meet the Paymasters

9/9/2021
The hard-working payroll professionals behind Hollywood's paychecks

Film Financing Explained: Soft Money Financing

9/2/2021
Vivian Hua joins our panel of financing and incentive experts to discuss funding film and television...
Canadian flag

5 Things to Know Before Working in Canada

8/31/2021
Prepare for your next job in Canada with this checklist of payroll considerations
Topic: Canada
More
 John Hadity-Guide to Soft Money Financing-sq

The Beginner’s Guide to Soft Money Financing

8/25/2021
How filmmakers can capitalize on incentives, film funds, and more to finance their next project
Los Angeles County Revised Health Order Eases Most COVID-19 Restrictions, Reinstates Masking Requirements

Los Angeles County Revised Health Order Eases Most COVID-19 Restrictions, Reinstates Masking Requirements

8/9/2021
Of note, the June 2021 Order (1) required unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals to wear a mask...
Federal OSHA’s New Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

Federal OSHA’s New Guidance on Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in the Workplace

8/9/2021
The guidance contains recommendations for maintaining a safe workplace, with a particular emphasis on...
EEOC Approves Employers Mandating Employee COVID-19 Vaccination, with Exceptions

EEOC Approves Employers Mandating Employee COVID-19 Vaccination, with Exceptions

8/9/2021
EEOC declares employers do not violate disability rights or other equal employment opportunity laws by...
Paul Beyers prop master on set

Meet the Prop Master

7/28/2021
From script to screen, the creative mind behind the props from film and television; featuring Prop Masters...

5 Things to Know Before Relocating for Your Next Job

7/20/2021
What production workers need to consider before moving to a new state
Equity Financing Panel-thumbnail

Film Financing Explained: Equity Financing

7/15/2021
James Schamus and Michael Helfant join our panel to share expert advice on funding film and television...
Cal/OSHA Updates Standards to Protect Workers from COVID-19

Cal/OSHA Updates Standards to Protect Workers from COVID-19

7/15/2021
Effective June 17, 2021, Cal/OSHA revised its Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS), which now accounts for...

The Beginner’s Guide to Equity Financing

7/15/2021
Expert advice to help producers secure funding for their next project
Anthony De La Rosa EP Residuals

The Beginner's Guide to Film and Television Residuals

7/7/2021
Important details every producer should know as they budget for their next project
Celebrating Pride Month Panel

Celebrating Pride Month and LGBTQ+ Film and Television

6/24/2021
Celebrate Pride month with us as our panel of groundbreaking producers and activists discuss the past,...

Diversifying Hollywood Through Better Hiring and Training

6/22/2021
How new legislation and production incentives are promoting diversity and inclusion

Entertainment Partners Launches New Production Incentive Tools

6/21/2021
New Online Tools help Filmmakers and Producers to Identify their Best Global Tax Incentives

Meet the Producer

6/15/2021
From concept to the red carpet, the producer is there to keep the production moving forward

Choosing the Right Production Incentives

6/2/2021
5 questions to ask when selecting your next incentive-based filming location

The Path to Better Diversity and Inclusion in Hollywood

5/25/2021
How production incentives are helping to promote inclusivity

Meet the Production Accountant

5/18/2021
From budgeting, to billing, to payroll, the financial powerhouse behind every production

Meet The Costume Designer

5/4/2021
From sketching to fittings to final looks, Shawna Trpcic ('The Mandalorian') and Michael Wilkinson...

Global Payroll Titan Award 2021

4/29/2021
Davida Lara, CPP, named this year's Global Payroll Titan
Spotlight on Georgia Production Panel

Spotlight on Georgia: The Producers' Perspective

4/28/2021
A dynamic group of producers, industry experts, and incentive specialists discuss the state of production...

Innovations in Production Incentives

4/27/2021
How emerging local initiatives are driving productions to new jurisdictions

COVID-19 and the Impact on State Unemployment Insurance

4/13/2021
How high unemployment claims have led to increased SUI rates across the US

The Beginner's Guide to Production Financing

4/6/2021
What to know before starting your next film or television project
Pantea Ahmadi and Joe Scudiero

SB 973's Impact on the Entertainment Industry

3/15/2021
How California’s new pay data reporting legislation, SB 973, applys to the entertainment industry
Topic: Legal
Watch

Profiles in Leadership: Martin Mazor, SVP and CISO, Entertainment Partners

2/21/2021
Why Identity is at the Core of Every New Security and Business Initiative

Digital Production Studio

Production Finance StudioProduction Management StudioEnterprise Management Hub

EP Sites

Central CastingEntertainment PartnersEP StoreSyncOnSetThe Production CommunityWe Got POP
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2022 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.